The Cult of Childhood

Hillman: We did a book at Spring Publications called The Cult of Childhood. It shows how this fantasy about childhood, this worship of the child that we were talking about, goes back prior to Freudian theory and developmental psychology, back to the Romantics and Rousseau, to German education, which set up kindergartens, and so on. Then the idea infected the arts: artists produce wonderful things because the artist becomes like a child filled with spontaneity and creativity.

Ventura: That's such bullshit. Art is hard work. Van Gogh said, "An artist is a man with work to do."

Hillman: So even our theory, the commonly accepted theory, of art is affected by our fantasy of the child. I think the worship of the child and the cult of childhood are substitutes for really worshiping the imagination. That's what we really want, but it's been misplaced.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.189

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